Sergey Lavrov: "Never in the history of humanity
Israeli Bill Criminalizes Criticism of the Military
US lawmakers have submitted a draft resolution calling for an end to US military support for the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen's war.
The draft resolution is being pushed forward by Senators Bernie Sanders, Mike Lee and Chris Murphy.
The bill intends to exploit a powerful but rarely activated provision in a 1973 law - the War Powers Act - that gives Congress the authority to over-rule the president and withdraw troops if the former believes the conflict is not authorised.
"We believe that, as Congress has not declared war or authorised military force in this conflict, the US involvement in Yemen is unconstitutional and unauthorised and US military support of the Saudi coalition must end," Sanders said.
Sanders stressed that under the US Constitution, Congress is the only authority that can declare war, alluding to divisions in the US government between congressional power and the president's role as commander-in-chief of the armed forces.
A similar bid to end US support for the war in Yemen was launched in November 2017 in a draft resolution sponsored by Congressman Ro Khanna. And while the resolution was passed, it was not implemented.
"Many Americans are unaware that the people of Yemen are suffering today from a devastating civil war with Saudi Arabia and their allies on one side and Houthi rebels on the other," said Sanders.
"Many Americans are also not aware that US forces have been actively involved in support of the Saudis in this war, providing intelligence and aerial refuelling of planes, whose bombs have killed thousands of people and made this crisis far worse."
Yemen has been torn apart by conflict since 2014, when Houthi rebels, allied with troops loyal to former president Ali Abdullah Saleh, captured large expanses of the country, including the capital Sanaa.
Saudi Arabia launched a massive aerial campaign against the rebels in March 2015, aimed at restoring the government of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi. Since then, the US has been helping the Saudi-led coalition with weaponry and logistical support.
According to the United Nations, the war has killed more than 10,000 people and injured more than 40,000 to date. The UN has also said the country is facing the "worst humanitarian crisis in the world".
Due to a crippling Saudi air and sea blockade on the country, more than three quarters of the population - some 22 million people - need humanitarian assistance, while 11 million require dire help in order to survive.
Read also: Are America’s Wars Just and Moral?
Flashback 2003: President Bashar al-Assad
There are cultural and intellectual methods to fight terrorism
President Bashar al-Assad received the senior correspondent of the Italian 'Corriere Della Sera' newspaper Antonio Ferari and gave him an interview.
On whether there is a fear that Syria becomes the next target of a military action after the war on Iraq the President said: "I do not think that the US has interest in repeating its mistake in Iraq."
Asked what he will tell President George Bush if a meeting takes place with him, President Bashar said: "I will tell the truth and point out the mistake in his proposals... I would also say that the US administration is under accusation and not Syria."
On the prospects of 'the road map to peace' and whether the President believes in it in the first place, the President said: "Where does it exist?
If it has been there, it is only in a conference or in the media. We didn't see it effective and we don't think that it will be such... The current Israeli government is a war government which has no interest in achieving peace..."
On the definition of terrorism, the President said: "It is not an army, but mind and thoughts. This is the problem of fighting terrorism.
There are cultural and intellectual methods to fight ignorance, poverty, wars, racism, etc.. All these are methods to fight terrorism. At the last stage comes security cooperation among countries.." (Interview Syria Times 30-9-03)
Info: The road map is an internationally devised peace plan, drawn up by the US, the UN, the EU and Russia - with Israeli and Palestinian consultation - that seeks a two state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. That means setting up an independent Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, the two occupied territories, alongside Israel.
“It is essential to provide conditions for creative labor and economic growth at a pace that would put an end to the division of the world into permanent winners and permanent losers.
The rules of the game should give the developing economies at least a chance to catch up with those we know as developed economies. We should work to level out the pace of economic development, and brace up backward countries and regions so as to make the fruit of economic growth and technological progress accessible to all. Particularly, this would help to put an end to poverty, one of the worst contemporary problems.”
Vladimir Putin, President Russian Federation, Meeting of the Valdai International Discussion Club
Putin wants to end poverty? Putin wants to stimulate economic growth in developing countries?
Putin wants to change the system that divides the world into “permanent winners and losers”? But, how can that be, after all, [the Western media tell us that] Putin is bad, Putin is a “KGB thug”, Putin is the “new Hitler”?
American liberals would be surprised to know that Putin actually supports many of the same social issues that they support. For example, the Russian President is not only committed to lifting living standards and ending poverty, he’s also a big believer in universal healthcare which is free under the current Russian Constitution. Here’s what he said at the annual meeting of the Valdai International Discussion Club:
“Another priority is global healthcare…. All people in the world, not only the elite, should have the right to healthy, long and full lives. This is a noble goal. In short, we should build the foundation for the future world today by investing in all priority areas of human development.”
How many “liberal” politicians in the US would support a recommendation like Putin’s? Not very many...
Putin is not the ghoulish caricature the media makes him out to be nor does he hate America, that’s just more propaganda from the corporate echo-chamber.
The truth is Putin has been good for Russia, good for regional stability, and good for global security. He pulled the Russian Federation back from the brink of annihilation in 2000, and has had the country moving in a positive direction ever since..”
Since Putin took office in 2000, workers have seen across-the-board increase in wages, benefits, healthcare and pensions. Poverty and unemployment have been reduced by more than half while foreign investment has experienced steady growth. Onerous IMF loans have been repaid in full, capital flight has all-but ceased, hundreds in billions in reserves have been accumulated, personal and corporate taxes have been slashed, and technology has experienced an unprecedented renaissance.
The notorious Russian oligarchs still have a stranglehold on many privately-owned industries, but their grip has begun to loosen and the “kleptocracy has begun to fade.”
The only place where people have a negative view of Putin is in the United States and EU, the two locations where he is relentlessly savaged by the media and excoriated by the political class.
The attacks on Putin began sometime in 2006 during Putin’s second term when it became apparent that Russia was going to resist the looting and exploitation the US requires of its vassal states.
This is when the powerful Council on Foreign Relations funded a report titled “Russia’s Wrong Direction” that suggested that Russia’s increasingly independent foreign policy and insistence that it control its own vast oil and natural gas resources meant that “the very idea of a ‘strategic partnership’ no longer seems realistic.”
That’s right, Russia was thrown under the bus because they wanted to control their own oil and their own destiny...
What Washington really despises about Putin is that he has refused to comply with their diktats and has openly rejected their model of a “unipolar” world order.
As he said at the annual Security Conference at Munich in 2007: “The unipolar world refers to a world in which there is one master, one sovereign; one center of authority, one center of force, one center of decision-making.
At the end of the day this is pernicious not only for all those within this system, but also for the sovereign itself because it destroys itself from within.”
Flashback: Putin slams ‘policies of exceptionalism and impunity’
Russia Today, 28 Sep, 2015
The export of so-called ‘democratic’ revolutions has continued, but has unleashed poverty and violence instead of the triumph of democracy, Russian President Vladimir Putin said addressing the UN General Assembly.
Attempts to push for changes in other countries based on ideological preferences have led to “tragic consequences and degradation rather than progress.” “We should all remember what our past has taught us,” Putin said. “We, for instance, remember examples from the history of the Soviet Union.”
It seems however that some are not learning from others’ mistakes, but keep repeating them, he said, adding that “the export of so-called ‘democratic’ revolutions continues.”
“I cannot help asking those who have caused this situation: Do you realize now what you have done?”
“But I am afraid the question will hang in the air, because policies based on self-confidence and belief in one’s exceptionality and impunity have never been abandoned.”
Russia has tested an array of new strategic nuclear weapons that can’t be intercepted, President Vladimir Putin announced Thursday, marking a technological breakthrough that could dramatically increase Russia’s military capability, boost the Kremlin’s global position and also raise Western concerns about a potential renewed arms race in the 21st century.
Speaking in a state-of-the-nation speech, Putin said the weapons include a nuclear-powered cruise missile, a nuclear-powered underwater drone and new hypersonic missile that have no equivalent elsewhere in the world.
He said the creation of the new weapons has made NATO’s U.S.-led missile defense “useless,” and means an effective end to what he described as Western efforts to stymie Russia’s development.
“I want to tell all those who have fueled the arms race over the last 15 years, sought to win unilateral advantages over Russia, introduced unlawful sanctions aimed to contain our country’s development: all what you wanted to impede with your policies have already happened,” he said. “You have failed to contain Russia.”
The announcement comes as Putin is set to easily win another six-year presidential term in the March 18 election.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said he aims to cut his country's "unacceptable" poverty rate in half over the next six years, in a state of the nation address on Thursday.
"(We should) at least halve the poverty rate in the next six years," Putin said, adding that 20 million Russians currently live below the poverty line compared to 42 million in 2000.
Putin, who has led the country for the last 18 years, focused on domestic issues in the speech, saying that the coming years will be "decisive" for Russia.
"The well-being of Russia and the well-being of our citizens must be the foundation of everything, and it is in this area that we must make a breakthrough," Putin said.
He called for a technological push to improve Russia's living standards and economy. "Lagging behind in technology is the main threat and our main enemy," Putin said.
"To move forward and dynamically develop, we need to expand liberties in all spheres," he added.
"The international community cannot tolerate barbaric terrorist groups and must strengthen its efforts to defeat terrorism and extremism in all its forms," White House Statement, 26-11-2017
Claims made by representatives of the US administration about the intention to hold Moscow responsible for chemical weapons being allegedly employed by Damascus demonstrate a cynical attitude, Russia’s embassy in the United States said in a statement on Thursday (march 1).
"The sweeping propaganda campaign waged by Washington, blaming Russia for failing to fulfill its obligations in Syria, suggests that it is not care for civilian Syrians, but a cold-blooded political premeditation that is behind it: to keep an enclave of extremists by all means in the suburb of the Syrian capital," the embassy said.
Meanwhile, Washington "continues to make ungrounded claims that Damascus uses chemical agents, as an instrument of anti-Syria geopolitical engineering," the diplomatic mission said.
"The latest statements made by representatives of the administration about the intention to hold Russia responsible for chemical weapons being allegedly employed by Damascus demonstrate a particularly cynical attitude. This comes as the administration itself admits there is no evidence regarding the issue. There has never been any," the statement said.
Russia’s embassy has also warned the US against the temptation to use false reports "as a pretext for missile attacks on Syrian government facilities."
The UN Security Council last Saturday voted for a resolution demanding all [moderate] parties to the conflict in Syria should terminate hostilities at least for 30 days for providing relief aid to the population. All fifteen members of the UN Security Council, including Russia, supported the resolution. The truce will not apply to military operations against the group Islamic State and other terrorist organizations.
"Our Administration will be a friend to all moderate Muslim reformers
in the Middle East, and will amplify their voices." Donald Trump 15-8-2016
In more than seven years of war in Syria, we have seen many times how Western governments and news media shamelessly invert reality.
The same was seen this week over the grim fighting around Eastern Ghouta, the suburb near the capital, Damascus, where 400,000 people are said to be trapped. But who is trapping who?
US and European media breathlessly claim that Eastern Ghouta is under siege from Syrian “regime forces” allied with Russia. This description is posing things upside down.
The district was taken over nearly six years ago by foreign-backed extremists, like Jaysh al Islam, Ahrar al Sham, and Al Nusra Front.... It is these illegally armed insurgents who are holding the civilian population under siege in a reign of terror.
The same situation, and Western inversion of reality, has been seen before, most notably regarding Syria’s second city of Aleppo.
The Syrian and Russian forces liberated that city at the end of 2016, and since then life for the residents there has fortunately returned to the normal peaceful, pluralist coexistence which prevailed before the foreign-backed terror goons took over.
Over the past few years, civil and proxy wars in the Middle East have taken a heavy toll on the economies of several countries in the region.
Armed conflicts have caused severe damage to the physical infrastructure and output capacity of the war-torn countries, and a generation of children and young adults is now growing up with inadequate levels of education or healthcare due to displacement and the destruction of public services.
These things will have long-term negative effects on human capital and the future economic prospects of the war-ravaged countries.
muslim brotherhood: "we will bring back islam to syria"
In Syria, the war that started in mid-March 2011 caused direct physical damage to infrastructure and productive assets amounting to an estimated $68 billion from 2011 until 2016.
Syrian GDP contracted by 16 per cent annually from 2011 to 2015 and by four per cent in 2016, meaning an accumulated loss of three times Syrian GDP in 2010 before the war started.
This loss of assets and output has coincided with the loss of three million jobs, which has raised the unemployment rate to 66 per cent of the workforce. As a result, 85.2 per cent of Syrians have fallen below the poverty line during the armed conflict and now lack basic needs.
The conflict has forcibly displaced 11.5 million people, nearly half the country’s population, leaving 2.8 million children not going to school. It is estimated that the Syrian economy has lost during the war years some $10.5 to $16.5 billion in human capital due to loss in school years alone.
'arab spring' in yemen: militant groups, islamists, al-qaeda, armed tribes
In Yemen, the costs of the physical damage that has taken place since the outbreak of the war in 2015 could reach some $15 billion.
Because of the decline in oil production that has taken place in addition to the damaged assets due to the war, Yemeni GDP contracted by 28.1 per cent in 2015 and by 4.2 per cent in 2016 as nearly 35 per cent of the country’s service enterprises, 29 per cent of its industrial enterprises, and 20 per cent of its commercial enterprises have suspended their operations.
The war in Yemen has also internally displaced 2.5 million people and has left nearly 21.2 million, about 80 per cent of the Yemeni population, in urgent need of humanitarian assistance, with 14.4 million of them suffering from chronic food insecurity.
Besides the specific vulnerability of children to shortages of basic needs, nearly half the school-age population in Yemen, about 3.4 million children, are now out of school because of the war, and this will have a long-term negative impact on human capital and economic productivity in the country.
2011, arab spring in libya - hillary clinton: 'we came, we saw, he died..."
In Libya, the reliance of the country’s centralised economy on oil revenues has meant that the armed conflict in the country has nearly shut down the economy at times by disrupting oil production and exports through damage to the relevant assets or suspending their operations.
Libyan crude oil production thus declined from 1.5 million barrels per day in 2010 to 390,000 barrels per day in 2016, and lost revenues due to sluggish oil exports amounted to nearly $100 billion over three years. This has impacted the provision of basic needs and has left some 2.4 million people in need of humanitarian assistance, with one million children suffering from acute malnutrition.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Saturday evening left for Washington, where he will address the AIPAC policy conference and meet with President Donald Trump.
"Tonight I am leaving on an important visit to the U.S. where I will meet with President Donald Trump and address the annual AIPAC Policy Conference,” he said before taking off.
“In the conversation with the President I will thank him on behalf of the Israeli people for moving the American embassy to Jerusalem, in honor of the State of Israel's 70th Independence Day,” continued Netanyahu.
netanyahu: "right wingers & religious extremists are the messengers of god"
“First and foremost, I with discuss Iran with the President ahead of the decision on the nuclear program. We will discuss Iranian aggression in our region in general and regarding the Iranian nuclear program in particular. I will also discuss with the President about advancing the peace process.”
“Advancing these issues is important for Israel and for the security of the entire world," the prime minister said.
A Syrian official says power supply in the northern city of Aleppo will see a rise this year as Iran is helping the country repair its infrastructure, which has been devastated by seven years of foreign-backed militancy.
Mohammed al-Saleh, the director general of the state-owned Aleppo power company, attributed the boost in power supply to “new capacity being installed by Iran worth 110 million euros. The five power generation plants are part of a deal signed last year under which Iran will help repair Syria’s power grid in Aleppo City, which the Syrian military and its allies liberated in late 2016.
Saleh noted that all of Aleppo’s pre-war power generation capacity - amounting to 1,000 Megawatts - had been destroyed in the crisis that broke out in March 2011.
Saleh also said that the electrical power system in the areas which were held by the Takfiri militants are completely destroyed, noting that the government aims to restore electricity to those areas this year.
“There is cooperation from our Iranian and Russian friends in the power sector,” he added.
Western states, some of which have backed the anti-Assad opposition, have said they will not help rebuild Syria until a political transition is in place.
While Assad continues to recover territory from rebels, the main highway linking Aleppo to other government-held cities such as Hama, Homs, Latakia and Damascus still runs through territory held by insurgents, rendering it insecure.
That forced the government last year to extend new power lines out into the desert along a circuitous but secure government-held road to Aleppo. "More than 170 towers were put up along the road," Saleh said.
He also said that state engineers were fixing the power grid in Kurdish districts of Aleppo city that were recently restored to state control after Kurdish militias withdrew.
Syrian regime and allied forces pushed deeper into eastern Ghouta on Monday and have now retaken a third of the opposition-held enclave, a monitor said.
Syria's Central Military Media, which claimed the regime had secured 36 percent of the enclave, says troops are continuing their advance from the east and are only 3 kilometers, or 1.8 miles, from meeting troops advancing from the west, which would achieve the partitioning of eastern Ghouta into two parts.
A 46-truck international aid convoy of the United Nations and key aid agencies crossed a final Syrian army checkpoint Monday and began to enter eastern Ghouta.
Ali al-Za'tari, a senior United Nations official with the convoy, told Reuters it would take "many hours" to offload the aid in the enclave and that it might be "well after nightfall" before it could leave eastern Ghouta. The delivery will be the first to the region in nearly three weeks.
The U.N.'s office for humanitarian affairs and the World Food Program says Monday's convoy to the town of Douma in eastern Ghouta will consist of 46 truckloads of health and nutrition supplies, along with food for 27,500 people in need. U.N. officials had said lack of approvals and consensus among the warring parties, as well as the limited duration of a daily, five-hour Russian-ordered humanitarian pause, had made aid delivery impossible.
The Russian military said Monday that Syrian opposition groups had promised to let civilians leave their eastern Ghouta enclave near Damascus in exchange for humanitarian aid, Interfax news agency reported.
Earlier, Russia introduced a daily ceasefire in the severely bombed area but the military said that Syrian opposition had prevented local residents from leaving.
AIPAC speakers praise Saudi Arabia and UAE leadership
Flashback 2011: Muslims determined to liberate the occupied territories
For almost forty years, since the overthrow of the corrupt CIA-backed monarch, Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi, Washington has been on the warpath against the mullahs in Tehran.
There wasn’t much to choose, comfort-wise between the Shah and his successor, the intensely religious Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, but morally there was a chasm.
The Shah was deeply unpopular and in the late 1970s there were mass demonstrations against him and the country dissolved into chaos. He had to go, and the only possible replacement was the Ayatollah who was living in exile in France, having escaped from the persecution of the Shah’s dreaded secret police, the Savak, in the 1960s.
Two weeks after the Shah fled from Iran, the Ayatollah returned to Iran on 1 February 1979 in triumph and to a level of acclaim not shared by all its citizens.
In 2002 the appalling President George W Bush, the man who took his country into its disastrous wars against Iraq and Afghanistan, conjured up the phrase the axis of evil, and put the world on notice that America would overcome any country that opposed it.
His speech was dramatic and he declared that “North Korea is a regime arming with missiles and weapons of mass destruction, while starving its citizens”... Then he said that “Iraq continues to flaunt its hostility toward America and to support terror. The Iraqi regime has plotted to develop anthrax and nerve gas and nuclear weapons for over a decade” and a few months later he invaded Iraq to destroy its weapons of mass destruction, which didn’t exist.
Then Bush announced that “Iran aggressively pursues weapons of mass destruction and exports terror, while an unelected few repress the Iranian people’s hope for freedom” which was formal warning to Iran that it was definitely on the target list, because “States like these, and their terrorist allies, constitute an axis of evil, arming to threaten the peace of the world.”
Since the era of the Bush wars, the world has certainly known no peace. Washington’s Military Industrial Complex has flourished while its soldiers died for nothing but profit.
The present US campaign against Iran is aimed at destroying the country economically and thus encouraging a violent revolution.
In January Donald Trump tweeted that “The people of Iran are finally acting against the brutal and corrupt Iranian regime. All of the money that President Obama so foolishly gave them went into terrorism and into their “pockets.” The people have little food, big inflation and no human rights. The U.S. is watching!”
Brian Cloughley is a British and Australian armies’ veteran, former deputy head of the UN military mission in Kashmir and Australian defense attaché in Pakistan.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani responded to the Israeli prime minister’s attack at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) conference, saying that the Israeli regime is in no position to call Iran a threat to the Middle East.
Addressing a Wednesday cabinet meeting in Tehran, Rouhani said that the Islamic Republic is a threat to no one and that it seeks stability and security in the entire region.
Netanyahu claimed that Iran threatened Israel by "building an aggressive empire" and that it should be stopped, otherwise "darkness" would "descend" on the Middle East.
Rouhani dismissed Netanyahu's "Iranophobic" remarks, pointing out that Iran "has never occupied any country" and "never bombarded… neighbors or piled up pressure on regional nations."
Not only has Iran never driven people from their own lands, but it has welcomed refugees, Rouhani stressed, adding that Israel wasn't in the position to claim it was intimidated by Iran.
"Those who have, over the past 70 years, created tension, launched wars and caused destruction in the region and have committed genocide and caused [the] Sabra and Shatila [massacre] are in no position to portray Iran as a threat," Rouhani said, referring to the massacre of civilians in the Palestinian refugee camps of Sabra and Shatila in southern Lebanon in 1982.
The president reassured listeners that the Islamic Republic seeks progress and prosperity for all regional countries and that the development of the country's missile program was aimed at guaranteeing peace and security.
"Our weapons are meant to promote peace, strengthen stability and security and to prevent others from thinking about invading our country.
The U.S.-led coalition battling the Islamic State (IS) is asking for a pause in fighting in Northwest Syria where the Turkish government and its allied Free-Syrian-Army militias are fighting Kurdish forces in the town of Afrin.
“We call on all parties to take measures to de-escalate violence, avoid endangering civilians, and maintain focus on the fight against Daesh,” U.S. Army Col. Thomas Veale, a spokesperson for the coalition told VOA, using the Arabic acronym for IS.
Veale’s comments come on the heels of the Pentagon’s announcement Monday that the Turkish offensive in Afrin has led to an “operational pause” in eastern Syria where the Kurdish YPG fighters are fighting against IS. It said Kurdish fighters have started shifting attention to northwest Syria to repel the Turkish attacks.
The [US-backed] SDF on Tuesday said it was deploying around 1,700 members from frontlines against IS in the middle Euphrates river valley to Afrin in an effort to defend against the ongoing Turkish offensive in the region.
“Today we regretfully make a difficult decision of moving our fighters from the east of the Euphrates and the rural areas of Deir al-Zour, who are stationed in the face of terrorist threats, to the frontlines of Afrin,” Abu Omar al-Idlibi, an SDF commander, said in a press conference.
“We would not have taken this decision if it was not for the failure of the international community to restrain the Turkish aggression,” al-Idlibi added.
The Turkish air and ground operation, code-named Operation Olive Branch, started in January against the YPG.
Ankara says the operation is to protect its borders from the group, which has gained control over large swaths of land across northern Syria. Turkey considers the YPG a terrorist organization, alleging the group is an extension of the banned Kurdistan Workers’ Party, which has been fighting for Kurdish autonomy in Turkey for decades.
Washington has repeatedly asked Turkey to show restraint and has warned that the assault on Afrin could hinder the efforts to drive IS completely out of Syria.
syrian arab army 2017
Counter-terrorism operation which is carried out by Syrian Arab Army in Eastern Ghouta does not violate international resolutions, the Russian Foreign Ministry affirmed.
In a press conference on Wednesday, Russian Foreign Ministry Spokesperson said that in response to the daily shelling by the terrorists positioned in eastern Ghouta on Damascus areas, the Syrian Arab Army carried out a wide-scale military operation to eliminate the terrorists who threaten the safety of the civilians there.
Russia sees that the counter-terrorism operation doesn’t contradict the provisions of UN Security Council’s resolution no. 2401, Zakharova clarified.
Zakharova indicated that it is clear that the 2nd paragraph of the resolution affirms that the cessation of hostilities doesn’t include military operations against the terrorist organizations, such as Daesh (ISIS), Al Qaeda, Jabhat al-Nusra, and other terrorist groups.
The Russian diplomat reiterated that the Syrian Government is strictly committed to the humanitarian truce, but the terrorists in Eastern Ghouta attempt to foil it on daily basis.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said on Wednesday pro-Assad forces have effectively cut the opposition-held eastern Ghouta enclave in half.
The Britain-based war monitor said the forces had brought the strip of territory linking the north and south of eastern Ghouta within firing range, effectively bisecting the densely populated area on the outskirts of Damascus.
"Regime forces control more than 50 percent of Ghouta," said Rami Abdel Rahman, the head of the Britain-based monitoring organization.
The symbolic mark was reached "after forces retook Al-Ashaari and Beit Sawa towns as well as farmland in the center and north of eastern Ghouta," he told AFP.
After attacking mostly from the air -- in a campaign that involved Russian warplanes and saw regime aircraft using barrel bombs -- pro-regime forces launched a ground offensive.
Regime forces have yet to take on the two main towns of Douma and Hammuriyeh or any of the most populated areas of the enclave on the capital Damascus' outskirts.
The Al-Nusra Front (Tahrir al-Sham Hay'at or the Levant Liberation Board) opened fire at people after civilians in Eastern Ghouta poured into the streets and called for expulsion of the terrorists from their regions, local sources reported on Friday.
The sources said that the Al-Nusra suppressed another popular uprising in Eastern Ghouta after local residents protested vastly against the terrorists' occupation of their region, adding that terrorists continued to block the exit path of civilians from Eastern Ghouta through the humanitarian corridor at the al-Wafedeen camp.
The sources went on to say that people in Hamouriyeh region held a fresh wave of demonstration and called on the Syrian Army troops to enter Ramousiyeh and also called for expulsion of the terrorists, but Al-Nusra opened fire at them.
In the meantime, civilians in Kafr Batna, another Eastern Ghouta settlement, took to the streets in support for the army and against the terrorists, the sources said. The sources further said that Kafr Batna residents were holding Syrian flags and some placards calling on the army to enter the region.
Hundreds of forces called "ISIL Hunters", trained by Russia, were sent on Thursday to Eastern Ghouta of Damascus to continue military operation in the region along with the Syrian army.
At least 700 special forces were sent to the frontlines of clashes against the ISIL in Eastern Ghouta. Damascus has also dispatched new military equipment to be used in military operations in the region.
The ISIL Hunters, trained by Russia, had earlier participated in operations against the terrorists in Palmyra and Deir Ezzur and helped the army in the liberation of many regions.
A military source said that the Syrian army was attempting to split Ghouta into two parts in coming days.
He added that the army reached areas near the town of Douma after liberation of Beit Sawa and Mesraba and seeks to separate Douma in Northern Ghouta from Harasta in the West to tighten noose on the terrorists.
A first group of jihadists is to be evacuated from the Syrian rebel enclave of Eastern Ghouta, the target of a devastating regime assault, a powerful Islamist rebel group announced Friday.
Syrian state television, meanwhile, aired footage of a bus carrying "fighters" out of the enclave through a humanitarian corridor, without giving their number or affiliation.
“Certain representatives of illegal armed groups have intensified attempts to get in touch with the Syrian government forces and the Russian Center for Reconciliation with the aim of discussing their separation from the banned terrorist group Jabhat al-Nusra,” Major General Yury Yevtushenko, the head of the Reconciliation Center in Syria, said in a statement on Friday.
No provocations followed the exit of militants, the general said, adding that those who have surrendered will be transported to Idlib, while negotiations continue regarding the surrender of other militants.
The news of militants’ surrender coincided with a statement by the Jaysh Al-Islam group, which allegedly agreed to release Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) fighters from their prisons and send them towards Idlib as well.
Fighters from Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), a group made up mostly of al-Qaida's ex-affiliate al-Nusra Front, are to be evacuated to the northern province of Idlib, Jaish al-Islam rebel group said in a statement.
It said the initiative was "based on consultations between Jaish al-Islam and the United Nations, and a number of international actors." "It has been agreed that they be moved to Idlib at their request," Jaish al-Islam said.
Despite two weeks of air strikes and artillery bombardment, the main rebel groups have so far rejected Russian-brokered offers to evacuate civilians or any of their own fighters.
The main groups had said on February 27 they would be willing to expel jihadist fighters from the enclave as soon as a U.N. ceasefire took effect. The main forces are Islamist groups -- Jaish al-Islam, Faylaq al-Rahman and Ahrar al-Sham.
Officers of the Russian center for reconciliation of the warring parties in Syria have demanded the leaders of the Failaq al-Rahman group waste no time to separate from the terrorist organization Jabhat al-Nusra to ensure withdrawal of that organization’s militants from Eastern Ghouta, the center’s spokesman, Vladimir Zolotukhin, said on Sunday.
"Officers had a working meeting with the leaders of the illegal armed groups to demand immediate separation from the outlawed terrorist organization Jabhat al-Nusra.
The sides discussed issues of withdrawal of Jabhat al-Nusra groups from Eastern Ghouta to Idlib and the future of Failaq al-Rahman members," he said.
According to Zolotukhin, the situation in Eastern Ghouta remains difficult and tense. Over the past day, seven 120mm mines were fired by militants from Eastern Ghouta at Damascus’ residential quarters and its suburbs.
The spokesman also said that officers of the Russian center were holding talks with administration officials of a number of Eastern Ghouta neighborhoods on possible medical and other assistance to civilians, their unimpeded and safe evacuation via the humanitarian corridor near the settlement of al-Wafidin.
Apart from that, in his words, officers of the Russian reconciliation center, UN mediators and leaders of the Syrian opposition Jaysh al-Islam illegal armed group held talks to agree aspects of the withdrawal of the second group of militants from the Eastern Ghouta de-escalation zone.
Syrian government forces on Sunday strengthened their strike to cut the eastern Ghouta enclave outside Damascus into two, dealing a major setback to the opposition...
The advance cuts off the towns of Douma and Harasta from the rest of the enclave, according to the Central Military Media outlet. Douma is eastern Ghouta's largest settlement.
In Douma, residents and local authorities are now considering evacuating the town, said local council member Iyad Abdelaziz.
"The idea of leaving was refused outright, at first, but now with the regime advances and the siege that's been tightened, there are negotiations about something along those lines," Abdelaziz relayed to The Associated Press by voice note.
The eastern Ghouta enclave has now been split in two, with one side measuring 27 square kilometers (10 square miles) and the other 22 (8 square miles).
Undoubtedly civilians have suffered in the Syrian war; however, there is a way to end their suffering. The rebels could lay down their arms and join the political process, like everybody else.
There are plenty of Americans unhappy with the Trump regime, but they do not shell Washington DC; they hope for a better and different outcome at the next elections. Their example can be emulated by the Syrian rebels, and then, the civilians won’t suffer.
If that’s too much to ask for, they can let the civilians leave; and fight to the bitter end. But no, they do not let the civilians out; instead, they produce reports of civilians suffering and wait for the Mounties to ride in and save them. (UNZ Review, 11-3-2018)
Two weeks after the Syrian Army kicked-off its operation to clear armed rebel groups from Damascus’ East Ghouta region, government forces have seized about two-thirds (conservative estimates say 60 percent) of all areas controlled by militant factions prior to the offensive.
In the process of doing this, the Syrian Army has split the once mighty and seemingly impregnable insurgent pocket east of the country’s capital into three isolated areas under the control of different groups.
The city of Douma, under the control of Jaysh al-Islam, is currently witnessing Russian-brokered talks aimed at encouraging rebels evacuate to other parts of Syria (either Daraa or northern Aleppo) and organizing the release of hostages among which there are captured Syrian troops and civilians.
At Harasta, under the control of Ahrar al-Sham, Syrian Army negotiation authorities are in talks with the community’s elders to organize the evacuation of jihadist militants from the town.
In the towns of the southern East Ghouta pocket (jointly-held by Faylaq al-Rahman and Ha’yat Tahrir al-Sham), the Syrian Army has – following the very recent seizure of Aftris – ceased operations for the time being to allow for the safe withdrawal of civilians and surrendering insurgent fighters into government-controlled areas.
Iraq’s Shi’ite Militias Are Inducted Into Military
Naftali Bennet: "After the era of Netanyahu,
The Assumption of Mary mural currently being painted on the dome of the Syriac Catholic Church in al-Aziziyeh neighborhood in Aleppo, a church which had been damaged by terrorists and underwent renovations, is a massive artistic undertaking by the unique creative talents of brothers Bashir and Nemat Badawi.
The mural is being painted on an area of around 700 square meters on the church’s dome, which is over 43 meters high, with the artists working on scaffolds set up under the entirety of the dome.
Nemat Badawi said that the mural depicts the Assumption of the Virgin Mary into Heaven, with both decorative and aesthetic elements that have spiritual significance.
The Quran has many passages concerning the Virgin Mary. |
The Quran has verses on the Annunciation, Visitation, and Nativity. Angels are pictured as accompanying the Blessed Mother and saying, Oh Mary, God has chosen you and purified you, and elected you above all the women of the earth.
Mary is for the Moslems the true Sayyida, or Lady. The only possible serious rival to her in their creed would be Fatima, the daughter of Mohammed himself. But after the death of Fatima, Mohammed wrote: Thou shalt be the most blessed of women in Paradise, after Mary.
Ibn Tufayl (1116 to 1185), one of the luminaries of Andalusian Islam, is best known for his philosophical tale "Hayy ibn Yaqdhan," literally meaning "Alive, Son of Awake."
According to the story, Hayy ibn Yaqdhan was found on an island as a baby and raised by gazelles. One day, a man named Absal from a neighboring island shows up on Hayy's island and the two begin to talk about nature, morality and God. To his astonishment, Absal realizes that Hayy had discovered all the truths by himself that were taught by his revealed religion.
The rapid popularity and enduring influence of Hayy's story is related to what it has to say about humanity, how our ideas come about and how we arrive at such notions as causality, religion, morality and God. It presents a fresh look on the relationship between common sense, observation, experience and abstract reasoning.
How Hayy arrives at his conceptual thinking is particularly important for the 17th century discussions on reason, experience and the notion of innate ideas. In contrast to Descartes, Hayy appears to have no innate ideas and develops his abstract and universal concepts about the universe and morality based on observation and reasoning.
A summary of the tale, published in the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society on July 17, 1671, underlies this point: "The design is to shew, How from Contemplation of the things here below, Man by the right use of his Reason may raise himself into the knowledge of higher things […] then to the knowledge of Natural things, of Moral, of Divine, etc.,"
Ibn Tufayl was neither a Deist, Quaker nor an empiricist. True, he has given much ammunition to European intellectuals to defend their varying theses on reason and observation. His own work, however, seeks to confirm one of the enduring themes of the Islamic intellectual tradition that reason and faith complement rather than contradict each other.
As a philosopher, doctor and public figure with connections to Sufism, Ibn Tufayl holds that the right use of reason untainted by desire and greed leads to the discovery of natural and religious truths, because the source of all existence and knowledge whether of humanity or nature is one and the same.
His story also underlies the importance of personal experience in reaching the truth of things – a point that can be taken in a primarily philosophical or Sufi manner. Either way, a person who sets upon the path of truth has to know that this is a personal journey and requires serious preparation.
Ibn-Tufayl (Abubacer) & The Failure of Orthodox Tradition
"The wolf will dwell with the lamb, and the leopard will lie down with the goat.
One of his decisive contributions to Islamic philosophy and literature was Hayy Ibn Yaqzan (‘The Living One, Son of the Vigilant’).
But Ibn-Tufayl adds a further twist to his story.
Deviant philosophy includes philosophies developed outside the intellectual lineage of the Western canon... . It includes philosophical perspectives occluded by this canon and its contemporary inheritors.
Flashback - Putin and the New Russia
Critically-acclaimed composer and pianist Ludovico Einaudi is coming to Tehran for the very first time to perform his heartfelt and emotionally-charged music on the Iranian stage.
Following the unprecedented performances of Icelandic composer Ólafur Arnalds and German electronic band Schiller on the Iranian stage, music lovers in Tehran will now be treated to another memorable performance..
His setlist for Tehran shows include “Night”, “Elements”, “Experience”, and “Fly”.
The album 'ELEMENTS' (released october 2015) takes inspiration from elements of nature, with each track evolving from a small gesture or motif, evoking a journey through fragmented thoughts and feelings.
Islam & The Four Elements
The number four contains a universal symbolism reflecting the order of the universe – the four cardinal directions and the four elements. Islam invested this ancient symbolism with a rigorous spiritual vision. The Ka’ba, literally ‘cube’, sums up this symbolism perfectly.
A 4-day exhibition of Iran's ecotourism and handicrafts kicked off
at Milad Tower in Tehran on Monday, March 12, 2018 (FARS News Agency)
Ali Shariati: "What I have in mind (when I use the term Yawheed) is a world-view.
Oh Magog! Apocalyptic Christianity Returns to U.S. Foreign Policy
In a book, published in France in March 2009, Jacques Chirac recounts that George W. Bush appealed to their “common faith” (Christianity) and told him:
For the benefit of Chirac, Thomas Romer, a professor of theology, dutifully penned a page on Gog and Magog: "They occur in Genesis, and in particular in two very obscure chapters in Ezekiel." That’s a particularly baffling book, the theologian says: "It speculates on the future in a cryptic code that is intended for insiders."
Turkey Moving Closer to Gog-Magog Alliance?
The Turkish military and the Free Syrian Army (FSA) forces have encircled Afrin town center as of March 12, while the number of terrorists "neutralized" has risen to 3,393 since the beginning of Operation Olive Branch in Syria's Afrin, the Turkish military said Tuesday.
The Turkish military uses the term "neutralized" in reference to terrorists captured dead or alive, or those who surrender during the operations. However, the term is usually used for the terrorists who have been killed in the operations.
Operation Olive Branch was launched by Turkey on Jan. 20 to remove the PKK/PYD/YPG/KCK and Daesh terrorists from Afrin in northwestern Syria.
The Turkish proxy Takfiris have nearly encircled the Kurdish held city of Afrin. The water supply to the city is cut off. It will fall within a few day.
This is the direct result of gigantic miscalculations by the YPG Kurds who controlled the Afrin area. They had a clear offer from the Syrian and Russian government: Hand over the administration to the legitimate Syrian government and the Syrian army will come and defend your land. They rejected that offer multiple times.
They thought they could withstand an attack by a numerical superior enemy which has abundant air and artillery support. Hizbullah can do that but the Kurds are not Hizbullah. Their defense network was mediocre with bunkers easily visible from the air and ground and without any water supply and other necessities. These medieval fortifications were built over years but fell within hours. There was apparently no second line to fall back to.
The tactical military abilities the YPG Kurds have shown were rather amateurish. The announced reinforcements from east Syria made no difference. Now their 'canton' is lost... Meanwhile the U.S. is on the verge of giving away the Kurdish held Manbij to the Turks.
In 2016 the Kurdish PKK attempted to hold onto 'autonomous' city-centers in eastern Turkey. The Turkish army simply shelled those areas into rubble. There insurrection ended with a catastrophic loss of Kurdish fighters.
The Kurdish attempts to expand their lands in Iraq by stealing the oil fields of Kirkuk were thoroughly defeated. Now Afrin is lost too.
Why does anyone believe that the Kurds deserve their own state? Their leaders are corrupt and have zero statesmanship. They hang onto illusory aims and ignore the realities of life. Will the Kurds ever learn?
Flashback: Assad hands control of Syria’s Kurdish areas to PKK|
By Roy Gutman - McClatchy News, July 26, 2012
President Bashar Assad, facing a growing rebel presence in Aleppo, Syria’s largest city and its commercial hub, has turned control of parts of northern Syria over to militant Kurds who Turkey has long branded as terrorists, prompting concern that Istanbul might see the development as a reason to send troops across its border with Syria.
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that Turkey would not accept an entity in northern Syria governed by the Iraq-based Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK, which has long waged a guerrilla war against Turkey, and its Syrian affiliate, the Democratic Union Party. He said the two groups had built a “structure in northern Syria” that for Turkey means “a structure of terror.”
“It is impossible for us to look favorably at such a structure,” he said in an interview with a private television channel.
He warned that if Syrian Kurdish militants mount a terror operation or some other form of cross-border provocation against Turkey, “then intervening would be our most natural right.”
Turkey fears that a Syrian Kurdish state run by the PKK will radicalize its own restive Kurds, who comprise 12 million, or one-sixth, of its 74 million population. Hundreds, possibly thousands, of Syrian Kurdish fighters have taken part in PKK raids inside Turkey over the years.
Assad withdrew forces from six predominantly Kurdish towns and handed control to the Kurdish militants in what appears to be an effort to bolster his defenses at Aleppo...
Assad also reportedly has pulled forces from the Idlib region of northeastern Syria and moved them to Aleppo.
Islamists seek influence in Syria
US President Donald Trump has sacked Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, replacing him with the director of the CIA, Mike Pompeo.
Thanking Mr Tillerson for his service on Twitter, Mr Trump said the new state secretary would do "a fantastic job". Mr Tillerson, a former chief executive of ExxonMobil, was only appointed to the job just over a year ago.
Speaking to reporters outside the White House on Tuesday, Mr Trump said his differences with Mr Tillerson came down to personal "chemistry".
"We got along actually quite well, but we disagreed on things," said the president. "When you look at the Iran deal, I think it's terrible. I guess he thought it was OK.
The Department of State said Mr Tillerson had not spoken to the president and was "unaware of the reason" for his firing. Under Secretary Steve Goldstein said: "The Secretary had every intention of staying because of the critical progress made in national security."
The appointment of CIA Director Mike Pompeo as the new secretary of state following President Donald Trump's shock firing of Rex Tillerson could spell more bad news for Iran.
Pompeo, named as his pick for secretary of state by Trump on Tuesday shortly after he announced Tillerson's departure on Twitter, has taken a notoriously tough stance on Iran in the past in his erstwhile role as director of the CIA.
Not only has Pompeo likened Iran to the Islamic State (ISIS) militant group, calling the country a "thuggish police state" in a speech in October, he has also promised to constrain Iran's investment environment and "roll back" its 2015 nuclear deal.
Showing his disdain for the internationally-brokered agreement, Pompeo said in October that the U.S. intelligence community and Treasury Department could make it harder for Tehran to meddle in regional affairs by exposing Iranian businesses that have ties to the nation's elite security force.
The comment came shortly after Trump refused to certify the nuclear deal, marking the beginning of a campaign to toughen the terms of the agreement and rein in Iranian activities not addressed by the accord.
In November 2016, when Pompeo was appointed to lead the CIA, he warned that Tehran is "intent of destroying America" and called the nuclear deal "disastrous." He added that he was looking forward to "rolling back" the agreement.
Trump has been a vociferous critic of the deal since his election, saying that Iran had not stuck to it, although he has so far stopped short of tearing up or renegotiating the agreement. Iran has said it would not accept any changes to the deal.
Trump's Morphed From Spy Agency Critic to Fan, CIA's Pompeo Says
The Syrian Arab Army (SAA) has officially entered the Al-Qadam District in southern Damascus after a long absence due to the ongoing war.
According to a military source in Damascus, the rebel forces in Al-Qadam handed over their last positions to the Syrian Army, despite the fact they were under attack by the so-called Islamic State (ISIS).
ISIS was able to claim at least 30 percent of Al-Qadam, primarily the eastern neighborhoods, before the Syrian Army entered on Tuesday.
The Syrian Army now controls at least 70 percent of Al-Qadam, which is considered one of the largest districts in southern Damascus. In the coming hours, the Syrian Army will attempt to clear the Islamic State terrorists from the eastern neighborhoods of Al-Qadam, while they finalize preparations for their upcoming Yarmouk Camp offensive.
Al-Qadam borders the Yarmouk Camp from its western axis; this will be a launching point for the Syrian Army and their Palestinian allies.
During the Syrian Civil War, Yarmouk camp became the scene of intense fighting in 2012 between the Free Syrian Army and the PFLP-GC supported by Syrian Army government forces. The camp then was consequently taken over by various factions and was deprived of supplies, resulting in hunger, diseases and a high death rate, which caused many to leave. By the end of 2014, the camp population had gone down to just 20,000 residents.
In early April 2015, most of the Yarmouk camp was overrun by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. Daesh took control of al-Yarmouk refugee camp with the support of Jabhat An-Nusra fighters in the camp.
Dozens of civilians, including many sick or injured, were escorted out of militant-held town of Douma in Eastern Ghouta into government-controlled territory via al-Wafideen camp crossing point on Tuesday (14-3-2018). The Syrian Red Crescent helped the civilians make their way out of the embattled town... (Al-Masdar News)
Some 900 civilians were safely evacuated from Eastern Ghouta during a humanitarian ceasefire, the Russian military has said. The cessation of hostilities also allowed much-needed aid to enter the besieged area.
More than 350 civilians were evacuated from Eastern Ghouta’s Hamuria on Thursday alone, according to Yury Yevtushenko, spokesman for the Russian Reconciliation Center for Syria.
In recent days, the situation in Douma, the biggest town in the rebel-held Eastern Ghouta area, was “significantly stabilized,” according to the Russian military.
An earlier statement said the so-called humanitarian pause, which ensured a ceasefire between the warring parties and allowed aid to be provided to civilians, had held for three days in a row.
Russia’s Reconciliation Center sent two humanitarian convoys last week, delivering 318 tons of food and medicines to the town. On Friday, another convoy will bring additional aid to the embattled area.
The Russian Defense Ministry added that the ceasefire in Douma was extended for two more days, and civilians in need of medical treatment were being evacuated from the area.
Evacuees have provided accounts of how militants controlling Eastern Ghouta drove up food prices and imposed harsh punishments for even the slightest transgressions. This came as terrorist groups in the region continued to shell civilian areas of Damascus and fired at those who were trying to flee the enclave.
A-Masdar 15-3-2018: According to emerging reports from military-affiliated sources, thousands of civilians from the rebel-held district town of Hammuriyah in Damascus’ East Ghouta region have begun fleeing towards Syrian Army lines.
Sources claim that some 2,000 civilians from Hammuriyah, a key rebel stronghold in the heart of East Ghouta, are involved in the great flight towards government-held areas.
Following an assault on Hummuriyah by the Syrian Army that started on Wednesday, the town’s northern and eastern farmland areas as well as some points within the district itself have since come under government forces control.
A mass evacuation of civilians is underway at the Hamouriyah humanitarian corridor in Eastern Ghouta. Civilians have been fleeing militant-held territory, under the protection of the Syrian Arab Red Crescent and the Syrian Arab Army. The passage was established by Syrian forces, after the reported recapture of parts of Hamouriyah last night. (Al-Masdar News, 15-3-2018)
BEIRUT (Reuters) - The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said on Thursday the number of people leaving a rebel pocket in eastern Ghouta to government territory had risen to 12,500.
Civilians are streaming out of the towns of Kafr Batna, Hammouriyeh, Jisreen and Saqba, said Rami AbdulRahman, director of the Britain-based war monitor. (Reuters Staff, 16-3-2018
The foreign ministers of Iran, Russia and Turkey issued a joint statement at the end of their meeting in Astana, Kazakhstan, on March 16, and agreed to continue their effective interaction on Syria.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, his Russian and Turkish counterparts; Sergei Lavrov and Mevlut Cavusoglu, respectively agreed to keep up the effective interaction that would have positive effect on the situation in Syria and the entire region and reduce the risk of ethnic and sectarian divide.
The three foreign ministers expressed their satisfaction with concrete contribution of the Astana process to improvement of the situation in Syria during the last year, and emphasized in this regard the success of their collective efforts in the fight against international terrorism, particularly the defeat of the ISIL in Syria and the creation of favorable conditions for the political settlement on the basis of the UN Security Council resolution 2254.
Joint Statement (Astana, 16 March 2018)
The Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the Islamic Republic of Iran, the Russian Federation and the Republic of Turkey, as guarantors of the observance of the ceasefire regime in Syria...
Highlighted the current high level of tripartite coordination on implementing the provisions of the Joint Statement by Presidents of Iran, Russia and Turkey of 22 November 2017 in Sochi;
Reaffirmed their strong and continued commitment to the sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity of the Syrian Arab Republic. They also highlighted that none of the actions, no matter by whom they were undertaken, should undermine these principles...
Reaffirmed their determination to continue their cooperation in order to ultimately eliminate DAESH/ISIL, Nusra Front and all other individuals, groups, undertakings and entities associated with Al-Qaeda or DAESH/ISIL as designated by the UN Security Council in Syria and to prevent their relocation to other countries and regions;
Underscored the necessity to assist the Syrians in restoring the unity of their country and in achieving a political solution of the ongoing conflict through an inclusive, free, fair and transparent Syrian-led and Syrian-owned process leading to a constitution enjoying the support of the Syrian people, and free and fair elections with the participation of all eligible Syrians under appropriate UN supervision;
"Perhaps Yithak Rabin came close to a solution towards the end of his life, when he declared on TV that “Arafat is my partner”. All his successors rejected it. They were not prepared to give up the settlements, but, on the contrary, enlarged them incessantly. They resisted every effort to fix a final border, since their kind of Zionism demands perpetual expansion. Therefore they saw in Arafat a dangerous enemy and tried to destroy him by all means, including an unprecedented campaign of demonization." ( Uri Avnery, 9-11-2004)
Today, 25 years later, Palestinians and Israelis are further away from peace than at any time since. No Palestinian state is on the horizon, but Abu Alaa, drawing on long lines of history back to the Crusades, offers advice to the Israelis.
He cannot see why Israel wouldn’t want to negotiate a permanent peace these days, especially, he says because Israel will not be strong forever...
Abu Alaa has no warm words to say about the upcoming “deal of the century”, US President Donald Trump’s expected peace plan. He says that the Palestinians will reject it outright, waving his right hand as if he is dismissing something meaningless.
“Without Jerusalem, we will never sign. Never....”
“I was born here in Abu Dis, and I used to walk into Jerusalem every day to go to school. My family were farmers; we used to have land all the way down to the Dead Sea, including where the settlement of Maale Adumim is today.” One day, he promises, the wall will be dismantled.
“We never thought it would end up like this,” Abu Alaa points out.
“Back in 1993, we were certain a Palestinian state was just a few years away. And from that moment onwards we expected to live, two states side by side, in peace and prosperity.”
“We were ready for a historic compromise with Israel..." “At one point, Uri Savir, the Israeli negotiator, gave me a list of 60 questions he wanted to be answered. I said I don’t intend to answer them, I am not under interrogation. ‘But this is from Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin,’ he said. OK, I said, I won’t answer them, but I will take the list to Yasser Arafat.”
When Arafat saw the list, he noted that the Palestinians now had direct communication with the Israeli leaders. “I will answer these,” said Arafat, and sat down with the questions, one by one. This, says Abu Alaa, was the historic breakthrough.
The Oslo peace process collapsed with the sudden assassination of Yitzhak Rabin by an Israeli fundamentalist in 1995.
Rabin as Nazi.
On the evening of 4 November 1995, Rabin was assassinated by Yigal Amir, a radical right-wing Orthodox Jew, who opposed the signing of the Oslo Accords.